Encapsulating a crawl space is a common way to deal with moisture or flooding. It is also an easy way to quickly get control of the air quality in the home and lockout rodents and insects. When you’re thinking about “green-ovating” your home, or simply getting control of the moisture or humidity, when you have a crawl space, you must encapsulate.
Encapsulation does a great deal for the crawlspace and for the home above.
What the process is and what it does
The practice of encapsulating or “sealing off” a crawlspace is done to lock out moisture and cut off the connection between moisture, water and the joists of a home. By running a vapor barrier down the walls of a crawl space to completely cover the floor, you essential separate the outside from the inside of the home.
This vapor barrier will be the flexible membrane between the walls and floor and the rest of the home. A properly designed vapor barrier will limit the transfer of moisture through it while regulating the speed at which air will naturally pass through. This helps to limit and control the amount of moisture that will find its way into the air space and completely segregate liquid water and direct it to a sump location.
5 helpful tips when having a Vapor Barrier installed in your crawlspace:
1.) Not all vapor barriers are made for this task – careful. There are many products out in the world that claim to be able to fully encapsulate a crawl space. Make sure that your vapor barrier has a low “perm” rate and that it is at least 14mil thick. If you’re planning to use the space for storage make sure that a flexible sub-flooring product is also placed on top of the vapor barrier to protect it.
2.) Cover the walls too – all too often contractors forget to also encapsulate the walls of the crawl space when installing a vapor barrier. This can still allow water and moisture into the basement and therefore render the whole project useless. Take care to make sure it’s installed properly.
3.) Don’t use sprays. – Sealants and sprays aren’t designed to be applied on the interior of the basement. They are good in many circumstances as the “first line of defense” but as the last, they can’t hold the pressure and moisture trapped in a wall.
4.) Install a sump and a dehumidifier – to totally control the moisture level in the crawl space it’s imperative that you have a sump pump and a dehumidifier installed. Moisture will still exist, although not to dangerous levels, but a sump will remove any liquid water your encapsulation traps, and the dehumidifier will deal with any residual moisture that naturally collects in the space.
Crawl Space Repair Without a Fan or Vent
Crawl spaces are inherently dirty smelly places that can contain all types of unwanted odors from mold & mildew to urine & feces. Some areas of the country can even have soil underneath the home with odorless, harmful gases like radon gas. I'm a big believer that the best long-term solution to solve these problems is to encapsulate the air underneath the home with a liner system. It is a inherently impossible to keep rodents, bugs and mold out of the area underneath the home since the soil is exposed - but it is relatively simple to create a barrier between the home and crawl space the keep out all these unwanted nuisances.
I had a very nice lady write me the other day telling me about this house she had just purchased that formerly had many cats living in the crawl space and they left behind the smell of a giant litter box underneath her home. The odors were coming up through the wooden floor and creating a very fowl smell in the house. She told me she tried all different solutions: spreading baking soda, spraying an enzyme treatment originally intended for carpets & laying down new top soil - needless to say none worked. I wrote her back, apologized for her wasted time and suggested that she treat her crawl space like a wild beast that you can't defeat, only contain. She took my advise, installed a crawl space encapsulation system and the smells immediately went away.
Encapsulation systems are rated by permeability - 0.000 is the best, normal plastic is 0.01 and wood is 0.2. To stop all smells, moisture and gases look for an encapsulation liner system with a 0.000 permeability rating. A zero perm liner will also completely weatherize the crawl space and save on energy bills since the outside air won't be able to leak into the home.
Thin Liners Don't Encapsulate the Crawl Space
I can't tell you how many times I've received a call or been sent an email from a homeowner telling me how they went to Home Depot, bought a liner system as thin as a trash bag, spent an entire weekend installing it then didn't solve their problem. Cheap store bought liners are typically 6-12 mil, 0.01 permeability and even new they don't stop gases like Radon - they are also easily chewed through by bugs and rodents leaving the crawl space a year later leaking air like a sieve.
What to Look for
40 - 60 mil thickness, 0.000 permeability and antimicrobial so mildew can't grow on the liner. Encapsulation systems don't need a contractor to install (although trust me they won't tell you that). Look for the Energy Star Rated logo.
Save Money By Using Crawl Space DIY Kits
A basement is prone to all types of foundation issues like, cracks in the interior and exterior walls, leaks, soil pressure, excessive moisture, seepage and dampness. These problems get worse over time and cause long term damage to your home, if left untreated. In order to enhance the structural integrity of your home, it is very important to take professional help for basement foundation repair. A professional will ensure that the problem is resolved efficiently.
Many properties experience foundation issues at some or the other time and it is important to know how severe the problem is to look for a treatment that offers a permanent solution. A basement foundation repair can be easily done if you have basic information about the ways to handle such repairs. There are various methods of repairing the foundation of a home. If there is some serious damage, it is advisable to take professional help. For general maintenance, you can either go for mortar application or patching repairs.
Some indications which suggest that you should go for basement foundation repair includes:
- Uneven Floors
- Water collection
- Cracks at entry or exit doors
- Doors not closing or opening properly
Cracks are the most common type of foundation maintenance issues. They are usually found in older basements and are caused due to the changes in the soil below the basement. Shallow foundations are more prone to cracks.
How To Clean Cracks
Once you have identified cracks in the foundation, you need to first clean them comprehensively. Cleaning is important as it not only helps in knowing the type of repair required, but also helps in proper application of the adhesive material. You can use a chisel to remove loose fragments from the cracks and then inspect it to find the right repair method.
If the cracks have just begun to show, you can use either hydraulic cement or Portland mortar to seal the cracks. These materials come with easy to follow instructions and can also be used to resolve any visible unevenness along the basement floor.
If your basement foundation is facing standing water problem, the moisture seepage can cause cracks in the drywall. To patch the leaky spots is the most effective solution for dealing with this problem.
To ensure that repeated basement foundation repairs are not needed, the groundwater should be directed away from the foundation.
A professional basement foundation repair company can be hired to repair foundation cracks, basement walls, stabilize the foundation, install foundation guard, repair eroded, bowed or unstable walls and remove mold problems. A strong basement foundation increases the value of your home.